Wednesday, September 30, 2015

BEST Taco Salad

Let's talk taco salad.  I mean, most are about the same old same old.  Don't get me wrong, I LOVE, LOVE taco salad.  I have a few stipulations.  No beans, no onions and no beans, in case you already forgot.

Oh wait, HEY everyone!  How rude of me to not greet  you properly, this taco salad just gets me all confused inside, and I can't think straight.

OK, but seriously, other than my daughter in law joining our family and the beautiful twin grand littles she carried and birthed, this taco salad is right up there with the top reasons I love her so much.  She is kind and has a heart the size of Texas and all that mushy stuff to, but this salad.  Have I mentioned I LOVE her taco salad?

She made it for me yesterday.  A lot of it.  Which is exactly how much of it I ate.  This is not your ordinary taco salad, or, at least to me it isn't.  It is the BEST which is why I named it that!  It has a couple of unexpected flavors that just work beautifully.  You might think to yourself, "really, in a TACO salad??" and the answer is yes.  Just do it, try it, now!

Here is what you need:
1 lb. ground beef, browned and drained
1 head of lettuce (this will obviously vary so just close your eyes and pick one)
1 medium cucumber
1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 bottle Catalina dressing
1 lg back of Nacho Doritos

Get out a large bowl, you are going to need it.  Chop your lettuce and slice your cucumber.  I like to slice the cucumber in half rounds.   Cut your tomatoes in half and toss them in as well, add in meat and combine.  Add in 1/2 cup shredded cheese and mix again.  Start adding in the Catalina dressing a little at a time until you reach the amount you think you want. (usually about 10 ozs)  Now crush up half the bag of Doritos and add them in along with the rest of the cheese.  Let chill about 2 hours before serving.  NO, it does not get soggy.  I know someone is going to ask, so just to clarify!  And don't skip the cucumbers, they are divine in this.  I think grilled chicken or ground chicken would be fantastic too!


Monday, September 21, 2015

Peanut Butter Pudding

Hello everyone!  Long time, no see, I know.  I wish I could share with you all that has been going on, but without permission from family, I can't do that.  What I can say is that I appreciate every good thought, every good vibe, every prayer, every little private message, and tweet, and Instagram message.  Knowing I have this troop of friends I have never met, sending positivity our way, is a gift that I consider a blessing.  Thank you to you all for sticking around a dead silent page, and still visiting the website regularly anyway.  My greatest thanks for that.

That being said, I decided to remake a recipe that I used to have up on the website.  I paired it with edible chocolate bowls and it was a hot mess.  It looked like a pile of vomit in a brown bowl and let's just face, it was NOT so delicious to look at.  Oh, that whole chocolate bowl fiasco...  ESPECIALLY for a woman who is terrified of balloons.  Stop laughing............OK,  don't.

This pudding is my husbands dream in a bowl.  No, I am not kidding.  OMG.  My puppy is under my desk and I just felt her breeze over my toes...let me get the cardiac kit.

Anyway back to heaven in a bowl.  Yes, if you love peanut butter it IS.  I would not personally recommend chunky peanut butter but, the world is your sandwich.  Make sure to take a little taste of this while it is warm.  Then prepare for a life changing moment.

Here is what you need:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 T. cornstarch
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup half and half
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract

In a medium sized pan, combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt.  Gradually whisk in the milk and half and half.  (NOTE : IF you do not have, half and half on hand, use 2 cups of milk.  I do it often!)  Place over medium heat and bring the mixture to a boil, whisking constantly.  When it begins to boil, reduce the heat to low and boil for one minute, continuing to whisk baby!

Remember that part about reducing the heat to low, or you WILL be eating this burnt and I won't feel bad! HA!  Remove from the heat, and whisk in the peanut butter and the vanilla extract.

Keep whisking until your pudding is smooth.  Pour the pudding into a dish and cover with plastic wrap, making sure the plastic wrap touches the top of the pudding all the way around!

If you don't you will get that funky skin that some people find appealing (insert barf noises) that is especially gross when it is the color of peanut butter.  Chill until chilled. (teehee)  2 hrs. should do it!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Tomato and Mozzarella Bruschetta

Tis the season.  The season for fresh veggies, straight from the garden, straight from the farmer's market, straight from a friendly neighbor or co-worker!  I have waited for this this very time of year, ALL year for this reason!

This very simple bruschetta, which you probably will notice isn't a traditional bruschetta, is one I have been making my family for years.  We love this stuff and while I adore traditional bruschetta, this one, will probably blow you right outta your socks.

As far as the tomatoes, I used cherry tomatoes, it is what I picked up at the farmers market but please feel free to use slices of tomato.  I just think the cherry or grape that yu halve are easier to eat.  For the cheese, there is no reason you can't use the shredded variety, but come on, take a look at this photos, do you see the thick winter coat of mozzarella on top?  Nothing can beat that.  I don't care for my mozz to be be browned on this particular dish but just a personal preference, feel free to let yours go until browned on top.

Get a nice life of french bread or a baguette.  Either one gets the job done.  I used a large loaf, as I was serving these as a side dish.  If you are using them for an appetizer, use a smaller loaf to accommodate your needs. 

Here is what you will need to pick up:
10 oz. cherry or grape tomatoes
1 loaf of french bread or a baguette
8 oz. ball of fresh mozzarella
olive oil
Italian seasoning

Cut your bread in slices the thickness that you choose.  (I made 8 of these but you could easily get 10 if you are doing the large slices like I did with this amount of tomatoes).  Preheat your oven to 400.  Lay your bread out on a baking sheet  Now, drizzle each piece with a little olive oil, flip it and do it again.  Do this with each piece.  Sprinkle on some dried Italian seasoning, just go with your gut on this one, a little bit of salt and pepper, do NOT forget that part and place in the oven for 5-7 minutes, until golden and crusty!  While that is happening, half your tomatoes and put them in  bowl.  Add a SMALL drizzle of olive oil, salt, and some Italian seasoning.  This is all to taste friends.  Mix to combine and let sit while bread finishes.

Get your mozzarella sliced if using fresh and just feel the excitement in the air.  My mouth is literally watering while I type.  When the bread is done, top each one with the tomato mixture until it is all used.  Lay a piece of mozz on the top and put back in the oven until the cheese is melted and/or browned to your desired taste.

This is so good.  Just so simple and so good.  I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Cotton Candy Cupcakes (No Fail 7 Min Icing)

And when I say "no fail" I mean it.  I have failed at this frosting for so many years I had given up. Always gritty, never done in even 15 minutes and just a complete regret every single time I tried.  Well, as a kid my requested birthday cake was always angel food with "sticky frosting" aka 7 minute frosting.  My mom made so many of those through the years she could probably make it in her sleep now.

I always wanted to learn to make it, but  just never could.  During some online research I so saw someone use a different technique, so I used my moms recipe with a new technique and WA-LAAAA....  Complete and total perfection.  You will never go back to your old fashioned way again after you read my way.  What will really be embarrassing is if you all already do it my way, and I am that far behind the cool kids!

I used just a regular cake mix for these cupcakes, because I wasn't concerned about the perfect cake underneath, my mission was a vessel to carry this dreamy, fluffy, sweet frosting.  I love cotton candy flavored things so don't let that deter you, you can use any flavoring you want or none at all.  My granddaughter loved the idea, and so we had to make them pink and blue like cotton candy, we added sprinkles to our cake and let's be honest, does it get more dreamy or perfect for a 6 year old than cake with sprinkles and pink frosting?  After I iced them and photographed them, we had this moment...

Oh my they are so much fun.  Nobody told me being a Nonna was going to be like this.  Joy, love, craziness and fun!  They are kid approved.  The icing makes perfect mustaches, and then you get bubbles baths afterward.  SCORE!

For the cake I used a white cake mix and simply added in 1 tsp of vanilla bean paste and 3 T. colorful sprinkles.  Bake according to package directions and let cool completely.

7 Minute Frosting
4 egg whites
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 cup water
1-2 tsp cotton candy extract if making that flavor.

Create a double boiler situation using your stand mixer bowl or other metal bowl for the top.  Add in all ingredients EXCEPT the flavoring.  Make sure the water doesn't touch the bottom of the bowl directly.  Whisk until it becomes warm and if you put some on your fingers you feel no sugar, which will mean the sugar has been completely dissolved.  When that happens if you are using your stand mixer, put it on the mixer and let it rip for 7 minutes.  If you are using a hand mixer, get at it for 7 minutes.  If you try to do this by hand, I suggest you head over to  It might take 6 minutes, it might take 8 minutes, but when you achieve stiff peaks you are there.  At that time pour in your extract or flavoring and let it rip another minute.

If you choose to color your frosting I suggest using gel paste, the liquid will thin your frosting.    This recipe should perfectly frost 24 cupcakes, or a 2 layer cake.

There is no better icing to use to recreate cotton candy.!  Nothing but pure sugar, sticky messes, and fun1